Writing, Cats, and a Friendly Octopus by Mae Clair

Opie1Say hello to Opie, my writing cheerleader, taskmaster, cute companion and occasional muse.

He showed up on my doorstep several years ago when I was working on a short story involving a hagfish.

If you’re not sure what a hagfish is, think of a fat, eel-like creature capable of producing massive amounts of slime.

Sound cuddly? And my story wasn’t about just any garden variety hagfish, but a colossal mutant with a fondness for underwater submersibles. Um, did I mention I didn’t always write romance? :D

A friend of mine sent Opie along as inspiration. Granted he’s more octopus than hagfish (who really wants a pet that engulfs its victims in slime before devouring them), but  I was instantly smitten. Seriously, who could resist those turquoise blue eyes and floppy tentacles? And that bulbous head was just meant for repeated patting.Opie Crop

Opie immediately commandeered a corner of my desk and has clung there tenaciously. Since I no longer have a cat to keep me company, Opie has become the critter who dominates my work area when I’m writing.

But it wasn’t always that way.

My cats each had a favorite means of making their presence known when I was in a creative zone. Any good feline worth a disdainful tail twitch knows that’s the opportune time to demand attention. Feeding time, cuddling time, play time, whatever. Cats have an innate strategy gene and know how to employ it.

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Onyx sunbathing. He was such a good cat…they all were!

McDoogal liked to curl up on my lap, which was actually nice until my legs started falling asleep. Onyx preferred strolling across the keyboard and posing in front of the screen. But Arafel…leave it to a female to be the queen of distraction. Her tactic involved sitting beside my chair and meowing. At least that’s how it started, but eventually those soft plaintive meows transitioned into a caterwaul it was impossible to ignore. In a test of wills, Arafel always won.

Opie is far less intrusive but I know he’s there. Watching, encouraging, inspiring. And yes, distracting, when I get caught up in his excess of cuteness. :D

How about you? Do you have a pet who demands attention when you’re working or a desk mascot that inspires you?

A Writer’s Fiefdom Revisited by Mae Clair

Writers need a special place to create. It doesn’t matter where it is (over the years I’ve had quite a few) as long as we can put our stamp on it.

When I was a kid, it was my bedroom, scribbling in spiral bound notebooks. When I got my fist typewriter at age fifteen (a manual one), I took over my parents’ dining room table. Each day we would move my papers and notes, along with the typewriter, to the floor when dinner rolled around. When the table was cleared, my parents gladly gave me my space back. To this day, I love how they encouraged me to write.

When my husband and I married, the dining room table pattern continued through each of the apartments we leased. When we bought our first home, we set a room aside as my den. Although it was nothing extraordinary, and shared space with the ironing board and laundry basket, I had an actual desk. I remember coming home from work one day and finding it in the living room. Hubby had taken it upon himself to surprise me, and picked it up from a state surplus store.

That desk was a monster. Solid wood, with a built in cabinet in addition to drawers. It always reminded me of something that belonged in a courthouse, it was so huge. It stayed with me for many years afterward, and when we moved to our current house, it became the center point of my den. I was no longer sharing space with laundry and the ironing board, but the room could have used a facelift. Still, it was my spot, reserved just for me. Writer’s bliss.

In warm weather, I took my laptop outside and worked from our deck or covered patio. Sometimes, when the mood struck, I’d stake claim on a corner of the couch in the family room. Eventually, we decided to remodel a smaller room in the house for my den and turn the existing space into a TV room. That meant moving everything from the smaller, guest bedroom into the den during the remodeling process. You might remember me lamenting my space was usurped with clutter in A Writer’s Fiefdom. I promised in that post I would share photos when the project was done.

View of desk and small bookcase

I’ve been neglectful in posting these, but I finally have my newly remodeled den, along with a new desk, bookcases, corner fireplace and flatscreen (which I like to tune to Soundscapes for background music when I’m writing).

Corner fireplace with flatscreen TV

We gutted this room from the floor up. Everything is new – from the floor and moldings, to the doors, switch plates, outlets, etc. I should have taken before and after photos, but didn’t think of the “before” photos until it was too late. Hubby does good work, and I am now a pro at stripping wallpaper. :)

Bookcase

I wanted warm harvest colors and wood tones, a change from the “blue” den I had before.

I’m sure I’ll still wander outside with my laptop come summer, but in the meantime I’m enjoying my cozy new haven, which is perfect for dreaming up characters.

View of desk and computer

Oh, and about that monster desk? We had to dismantle it in order to fit it through the door for trash disposal. It went out in pieces! I wrote a lot of stories on that baby, just like my parents’ dining room table. I’m hoping to write even more in my new fiefdom.

What do you like best about your writing space?

Creative Space: Creating a Workspace that Inspires

I’m delighted to have guest blogger, Cadence Blue, on my blog today.  Cadence and I connected when I was first venturing into the world of social media. I found her be delightful, friendly, and artistically-gifted. She loves writing, video production and grahic design work. And, hey, we share a love of cats. Need I say more? :D

Given how passionate Cadence is about writing and the creative arts, I asked if she’d be willing to write a post for my blog. She came up with a wonderful topic that’s going to have you redesigning a haven for your creative pursuits. Please welcome Cadence!

~ooOOoo~

Creative Space: Creating a Workspace that Inspires
by Cadence Blue

Are you a writer, a reader, a vidder, a graphic artist? Regardless of what moves you artistically, you need a workspace that is comfortable as well as functional—a place that coaxes the seeds of inspiration to grow and bloom into the full flower of your creativity.

Your workstation—your creative space—is your sanctuary. If you haven’t thought about making your workspace a place that will inspire you to do grand things then now is the perfect time!

Your office workstation is designed to be efficient, your dining room, inviting, and your bedroom, relaxing. It makes sense that the place where you go to write about (or read about) another time, place or world should be appointed accordingly.

The first thing I do is to keep my space clean. Dust is not my friend. Clutter is the next thing I erase. I can’t organize my thoughts if I look around and see that my things are disorganized.

Now that my space is clean and ordered I focus on my surroundings. I like to appeal to all five of my senses.

Color: Some artistic people are at their most creative when they feel energized. Others need to be relaxed before their creative juices flow. Whichever category you’re in, choose a color palette that puts you in the mood. This can be anything from painting the walls to hanging pictures and posters, or, art with motivational or inspirational quotes. Your sight is a dominant sense. Appeal to it with beautiful things.

Scent: A particular scent can take us back in time and stir memories. Don’t ignore your sense of smell at your workstation. I love the smell of brewing coffee on a cold winter’s day, or citrus in the summer. A few candles can make your space inviting. Last year I discovered flameless candles. They smell amazing and you can choose a wax warmer that matches your decorating style. If you like heavier, richer smells, incense is a great option.  

Sound: Don’t neglect what you hear. Keep music on hand that speaks to your emotions. Epic film scores can help you write your epic adventure novel. Remember that movie that made you cry? Sad music is great for writing those emotionally charged scenes.

If I am writing I listen to movie scores and New Age music because lyrics distract me. If I am making a video or working on graphic design I like music with energy, like pop and rock.

Another incredibly relaxing sound is water. My fountain is trickling near me as I write this. You can get them in the garden department of stores in the spring, or online all year round.

Taste: Nothing puts me in a creative mood like a piping hot cup of green tea or a cup of flavorful coffee. Whatever you like, keep it within easy reach. You don’t want to have to make a trip to the fridge when you’re in “The Zone”.

Touch: For me this usually means a cat on my desk to pet. Seriously, make sure you have a comfortable place to sit. Plush throw pillows on your sofa cuddle your body while you’re working at your laptop or reading. If you’re working at your desktop PC, invest in a good executive chair. Sitting in a chair that makes your back and hips ache is not conducive to being creative.

I hope these suggestions will help you design the best creative space for whatever you are creating, or simply enjoying.

I am curious: how do you set up your creative space? Please share your tips on designing the perfect place where the seeds of your inspiration grow and flourish.

I would like to thank Mae for hosting my ramblings today!

BIO: Cadence Blue has been entertaining family and friends with her writing for many years. Circumstances beyond her control caused her to step back from the art form for a time and she is just now making a tentative comeback as an aspiring indie author. When not writing she enjoys doing graphic design and video editing.

Cadence is married and is both mother and play companion to her four black cats, who demand much of her time and energy.

Connect with Cadence at the following haunts:
Facebook
Cadence Blue’s Fan Videos
Email Cadence: SweetCadenceBlue@aol.com